Thursday, June 30, 2011

Core Work is Fun and Easy!

I have a love-hate relationship with core work.  I love what it has done for my running and my overall fitness, but for some reason I still hate to do it.  It’s arguably the most important cross-training you can do and certainly the simplest and it takes the least amount of time, so why doesn’t core work get more love?  I can get into a routine for long periods of time where I’m really good about core work, but then I’ll start slacking again.  As soon as I do, though, I notice a difference – my back aches after a long run or even after work.

In my efforts to re-commit to core work, here’s a little photo essay of why it’s easy and fun.  This entire routine takes about ten minutes (just two or three times a week and you’ll see results) and only requires one piece of equipment – a stability ball I picked up at Target two years ago for about 20 bucks.

Core Work 002Me and “Bally” ready to rock.

CRUNCHES

Let’s start with the basics.  I almost always do these first because I hate them the most.  Must be 8th grade PE flashbacks or something, but sit-ups make me cringe.  I do 25 of these.

Core Work 085   Start in the down position.

Core Work 084   Then lift your head and torso up.  It doesn’t have to be far, just enough to engage your abdominals.

OBLIQUE TWISTS

Next, I do something easier.  This is how I motivate myself to do the whole routine – I alternate between easy moves and hard ones.  The easy ones are like a reward.  This one can be done with a medicine ball, too, if you’d like a little more challenge.  I love working my obliques because this is a move that you can totally see results from – these are your “six pack” muscles.  I do 25 in each direction.

Core Work 112   Start by holding the ball about waist-high in front of you.

Core Work 117   Hold in your abs and twist all the way to your right.  (Sorry this is blurry, my photographer was a 12-year old!) 

Core Work 121  Then twist all the way to your left – that’s one repetition.

PUSH-UPS

Okay, back to something more difficult – push-ups!  I do 25 of these.  Positioning the ball all the way at your feet is the most challenging, and putting it closer to your waist makes them easier.  I usually aim for somewhere near my knees.

Core Work 071   Up.

Core Work 068   And down – nose to the ground!

TRUNK RAISES

Yay, time for something easy again!  These are super simple and really good for your back.  Just be sure not to hyper-extend.  I do 25 of these.

Core Work 015   Lay on the ball with it positioned under your stomach.

Core Work 016   Then raise your head and trunk straight up.  That’s it – easy peasy!

ONE-LEGGED SQUATS

Okay, time for some glute work!  I do 25 of these on each leg.  Good form is really important on any sort of squats – don’t let your knees go past your toes.  Focus on keeping your weight in your heels and pushing your booty back.  Since I used to be a preschool teacher, I sing the song, “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” while I’m doing this one to remind myself to keep my shoulders, knees and toes in line.  Ha, ha!

Core Work 094   Stand with one foot on the ground and one foot on top of the ball.

Core Work 095   Lower yourself into a squat (note the shoulders, knees and toes).  For me, this is so much harder than it looks!  I am balance-challenged.  I’ll post some of the maaaaaaaany outtakes of me falling off the ball on this one!

BRIDGE and BRIDGE CURLS

I know these don’t really qualify as “easy” but wait ‘til you see what comes next!  I start with a straight Bridge for 30 seconds, then do 25 Bridge Curls.  These are good for your back, your glutes and your hamstrings.

Core Work 122   Lie on your back with your feet up on the ball.  Raise your booty off the ground until your whole body is a straight line, like a reverse plank.  Hold this for 30 seconds.

Core Work 130   Bend your knees and roll the ball towards your booty, keeping your hips lifted off the ground.

Core Work 132   Then push it back out to the starting position.  When I first started doing this exercise I could only manage 10 reps.

Apolo Ohnos

I have no idea what these might really be called.  I saw Apolo Ohno doing this exercise on one of those Olympics blurbs about the athletes and he made it look so easy, I thought I would give it a try.  OMG, the first time I did this I could only do FOUR reps!  It works your lower abdominals, which are the weakest of my core muscles.  I’ve worked up to 15 reps on a good day, but mostly I make myself do 10.

Core Work 101   Lie flat on your back with the ball in your hands over your head.

Core Work 102   Simultaneously lift your hands and legs.

Core Work 103   Transfer the ball to your feet.

Core Work 106   Lower the ball to the ground, but don’t stop there!

Core Work 107   Up it goes again.

Core Work 109   Transfer it back to your hands.

Core Work 111   And lower it back to the starting position.  That’s ONE repetition!

TRICEPS DIPS

I save these for last, not because they’re easy, but because I absolutely love them!  Working my arms makes me feel so strong and you will definitely see the results of this one – no more “bingo arms” that keep waving after you’ve stopped!  I do 25 of these.

Core Work 139   Start by sitting on a firm surface (you can use a couch, a table or a chair) with your legs straight out in front of you and your feet on the ball.  Brace yourself with straight arms, but don’t lock your elbows.

Core Work 137   Lower yourself down until your arms form a 90 degree angle.

Core Work 136   Lift yourself back up to the starting position and repeat.

And that’s it!  Anybody (including me!) can take ten minutes out of their day to be a better runner, a better cyclist, a better athlete.  Show your core a little love today.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Run 4 Independence–Race Report

What, you didn’t know I was running a 10K this weekend??  Yeah, neither did I!  On Thursday morning, IronHubs mentioned the Run 4 Independence – this is a race one or the other of us has participated in for the last four years, and it’s practically in my back yard – and was saying how it would be something fun to do this weekend.  I checked my training schedule and I had six miles down for Saturday anyway, but I sure didn’t feel trained up for a fast 10K.  We tossed the idea around a little, but didn’t come to a firm conclusion to actually run it until Friday night – talk about deciding at the last minute!

Big Boy and Little Boy were both a little apprehensive about running an unscheduled 5K, but I knew their tri training would carry them through to a strong finish.  IronHubs went back and forth between wanting to run the 5K or the 10K and eventually decided that he could reach for a 5K PR.  I knew for sure I couldn’t touch my 5K PR (at a 7:35 pace, that one might stand on the record books forever), but I felt like I could at least come close to hitting my 10K time.

RACE MORNING

Even though the race didn’t start until 8:30 and we had less than a five minute drive to get there, I was up at my usual 4 am.  Stupid body clock!  I drank my coffee, played around on the internet for a while, got ready and started feeling a little nervous.  What the heck was I doing running a race I hadn’t prepared for?  I don’t like racing unless I can do my best.  And worse, I hadn’t had any time to decide on a cute outfit!  I changed clothes a few times and eventually went with my favorite bright yellow/green shirt, a comfy black skirt and my Vibrams.  How exciting to be racing in them for the first time!

run4independence 002Can there be too many pictures of me without makeup on the internet?  I didn’t think so.

REGISTRATION AND WARM-UP

We arrived nice and early because of course we hadn’t pre-registered, but the lines were moving quickly so it took less than 15 minutes to sign up and get our bibs and shirts.  They were using this awesome paperless system from BazuSports where you register and pay on the computer.  After the race, they had instant results – you just typed in your bib number and it showed you your time and rank!!  Technology is a wonderful thing…

The weather was absolutely perfect – high 50s and just a little breeze.  Chilly enough to get cold while standing around waiting for the start, but hot enough that you warmed up instantly when you started running.  We sat in the car to stay warm for a bit, then all four of us did a quick half-mile or so warm-up.  When it came time to line up, we sent IronHubs off to the very front of the starting line, Big Boy was two or three layers back and Little Boy and I hung back about four or five layers.

AAAAAAAAAAND, WE’RE OFF!

The 5Kers and 10Kers started at the same time and ran the same route – the 10K was two loops of the 5K course – so I told Little Boy that he could run with me as long as he wanted (or could keep up), but he shouldn’t try to get ahead of me.  Little Boy is a sprinter.  He would much rather run really, really fast for a short amount of time than keep a steady pace for any real distance.  Based on his other 5K races and the long runs we’ve done together, I honestly didn’t figure he’d still be with me at the 1 Mile marker.  Of course, being a mom, I didn’t really want to run away from him, either!  So imagine my relief and excitement when we hit the first mile in 8:09 and Little Boy was still at my side running strong.

Up ahead, I could see Big Boy running with a friend of his from Cross Country who is older and usually much faster.  As it turned out, Big Boy hung with his friend – at the older boy’s pace – for the whole race!  I searched for IronHubs, but couldn’t pick him out of the crowd.  Thinking about it later, I think I was looking too far back in the pack, but he was way up near the front!

The great thing about running with Little Boy was that I was pretty focused on him and how well he was running, so I didn’t think very hard about my own race.  I wanted to run strong, but I didn’t want to push so hard that Little Boy or I did a crash-and-burn.  We cruised through Mile 2 with a 7:56 pace.

Somewhere around 2.5 miles, Little Boy started slowing down.  I knew I was pushing him faster than he would have gone on his own and honestly, I couldn’t believe that he had run that hard for that long already, but I didn’t want him to fizzle out so close to the finish!  I kept encouraging him and he kept rallying back, staying right on my back pocket.  When we hit the Mile 3 marker and could see the finish line, I gave him a high-five and told him to give it everything he had.  I was so ridiculously proud of him!!  Little Boy crossed the finish line at 25:06, an 8:05 average pace and well over two minutes faster than his previous best time!

As Little Boy sprinted into the finisher’s chute (and I ran past it and headed out for a second lap), I saw Big Boy and IronHubs cheering for us.  I hollered at Big Boy, “How’d you do??”

“22:21” he shouted back, with a huge smile on his face.  Holy crap – that was incredibly fast!

“Awesome job, buddy!!!”  I pointed at IronHubs, “How was your race??” 

He sort of smiled and said, “I did okay.”  What the hell did that mean? 

So I asked again, “What was your time??” 

He shrugged.  “It was good.  Go run a negative split, P!!”  {I know that looks like a lot of conversation, but it was super quick and I really was running the whole time.}

ARGH!  I spent the next half mile vexed by IronHubs’ non-answer to my question.  Did he PR?  Did his race suck?  And how the heck was I supposed to run a negative split when I had already given everything I had on the first lap??

ROUND TWO

After spending the first lap focusing so hard on Little Boy, it was strange to be out there on the second lap, suddenly alone with my own thoughts.  And boy, was I alone.  This was definitely a 5K race with a few 10Kers, just 204 of us.  I liked how open the road felt, though, and how easy it was to spot the other runners and reel them in.  First, I picked off a guy who had apparently gone out too hard and was walking.  Too easy.  Then I passed a teenage boy.  Better.  Then I passed a guy about my age.  Oh, yeah, baby!  I was running hard and it was starting to hurt.  I grabbed a cup of water at the aid station and dumped it on myself to cool off.  I started passing the 5K walkers who were taking up the entire roadway.  I didn’t waste any energy being frustrated at them, I just kept running. Don’t be afraid.  At Mile 4 (8:04 pace) I set my sights on a guy quite a ways ahead of me and told myself I would catch him by Mile 5.  It took me until almost 5.5, but I got him (Mile 5 – 7:43 pace).  The runners were fewer and farther between by now and I had stopped noticing the walkers. 

With nobody else to pick off, my focus faltered a little and my stomach started letting me know that I was pushing harder than usual.  With less than half a mile to go, I was forced to make a choice:  slow down or throw up on the side of the road.  I didn’t like either one of them!  I opted to slow down a little because I thought puking would be worse on my finish time.  I thought about Kim’s post the other day and realized that I was willing to suffer to meet my goal time, but not enough to vomit.

I passed Mile 6 (7:51 pace) and came around the final corner.  I could see the finish line!  With a tenth of a mile to go, the clock said 49:xx.  Sh*t!!  I would never make it in under 50 minutes!  I had already dug as deep as I thought I could go, but all I wanted in the world was a finishing time that started with a 4.  Was that too much to ask?  No, it was not.  I reached down and dug a little deeper.

There were all my boys, waiting for me and cheering.  There was the announcer, calling my name.  And there was the clock, 49:55 – I did it, I did it, I did it!!  PR, baby!

I crossed the finish line and pretty much collapsed, gasping for air and praying I wouldn’t throw up in front of the kids.  Of course I forgot to turn off my Garmin.  I grabbed my Gatorade out of the cooler we always bring to races and found some shade.  I walked around a bit so my legs wouldn’t lock up.  Finally, I got to hear about IronHubs’ race – he had PR’d, too!!  The whole family had set personal bests, what a day!

We went to check the computerized results – seriously, how cool is it to get instant results rather than waiting around for the RD to print them up and post them? – and when I saw my finish time, it finally occurred to me that I had been about 15 seconds off the start.  Duh!  So I ended up getting a HUGE PR!

THE MOVIE

Yes, I know I’ve gone movie-crazy lately, but it’s so much fun!

The song is L.E.F. by Ferry Corsten.

THE FUNNY THING THAT HAPPENED ON THE WAY HOME

This race was held in a huge local park that has a dog park, baseball diamonds, running trails and a good-sized lake that is home to hundreds of ducks and geese.  As we were walking back to the car, we went past a couple of geese.  I slowed down as this one goose marched right up to me, because I wasn’t sure where it was going to go, and IT BIT ME!!!  No joke!  And it would have bit me again had I not bonked it on the head with the cooler I was carrying!  Needless to say, I screamed like a little girl and ran away.  Thank goodness it didn’t follow me!

run4independence 046Goose bite.

I hope you are having a wonderful (goose-bite free) weekend!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Only Way to Get Better

About two weeks ago, I had a huge “A-HA!” moment in my training.  I love it when that happens!

I was analyzing my performance at my last race and working on my training schedule for the next two duathlons in this series, when I came to the conclusion that the only way to meet my lofty time goal would be to speed up on the bike portion.  “But how can I do that?” I whined to myself (and maybe just a little bit to IronHubs), “I’m already going as fast as I can!”  There may have been a tiny bit more whining, but I’ll spare you from it.  “I work hard.  Why can’t I go any faster?” I asked IronHubs.  He replied, “I don’t know. Why can’t you?”

Like so many of his little Zen nuggets, I didn’t appreciate this one right away.  I let it simmer in my mind for a bit and continued working on my training schedule.  In the past, I’ve stuck to a relatively moderate training plan, with two or three days of biking, two or three days of swimming and three days of running, one of which was a brick.  But this time, while I was filling in everybody else’s race days and figuring out how to accommodate my work schedule, I had a little lightbulb go on over my head:  The only way I’m going to get better is to get better.  (Yeah, I know.  Thank you, Captain Obvious.)

The training schedule I ended up posting on the refrigerator is pretty aggressive:  nearly every day is a twofer (bike + swim, run + core work, swim + run, etc.), and every week includes a long run, a long bike and at least two bricks, usually on back-to-back days.  I’ve never included this much biking before.  It’s challenging, but I’m loving it!

I’ve also armed myself with a secret weapon – a new mantra.  That first day on the bike after putting up this training schedule, I went out for a ride with IronHubs’ koan in my head, “Why can’t I go faster?”  (It’s hard to translate the nuance of this question in writing, but I didn’t mean it in a whining or questioning way.  More in a “challenge myself and encourage myself” way.  I can do anything, why wouldn’t I go faster?)  While I was riding, I pushed myself harder on the bike than I’ve ever pushed before.  When I wanted to back off and slow down, I told myself, “Don’t be afraid.”

What am I afraid of?  Ugh, that list is pretty long, but somewhere in there is this strange fear of succeeding.  And the flipside, a fear of trying my very, very best and still failing.  I have always held something back in fear, with the “what-ifs” in the back of my mind.

No more.

That day on the bike, I wasn’t afraid.  I didn’t worry that I wouldn’t have enough left for my run, I didn’t worry that my best wasn’t good enough, I just pushed and gave it everything I had to give.  And it was AWESOME!

To put it into numbers for you:  my average speed on the bike is was somewhere in the 17 mph range.  On shorter rides, I could push it almost to 18 mph and on longer or hillier rides, I usually averaged in the high 16’s.  That glorious day, I cranked out an 18.8 mph ride, just because I told myself I could.  Monday’s brick and yesterday’s brick both averaged 19.7 mph!  Crazy speed.  I was thrilled to discover that pushing harder on the bike didn’t leave me any more or less exhausted on my run.  17 mph or 19 mph, I still have to grind through that first mile of jelly-legs getting off the bike, so why not go 19 mph?

Have you pushed yourself to new limits?

Don’t be afraid.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Big Boy Steps up to the Big Time!!

What an incredible weekend we’ve had!  I wasn’t sure if it could get much better after IronHubs’ amazing Olympic yesterday, but Big Boy brought his “A” game to the races this morning and … WOW!  I think IronHubs was pretty darn happy with this for a Father’s Day present (well, this and the iPhone we got him…)  Here’s the movie version:

I’m so proud of this kid!!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Checking In!

Yikes!  I’ve been MIA for a week and a half, what happened there??  Oh, that’s right, my kids got out of school and instantly sucked all the free time out of my life.  Things are good, though, and I’ve got a little time to catch up with you guys this afternoon – yay!  Here’s what’s been on my plate lately:

  • IronHubs killed his Olympic distance PR this morning, shaving SIX MINUTES off his previous best and bringing home a little hardware.  Woo hoo!!  I’ll do a more thorough pictorial recap this week.
  • Big Boy is racing his first Super Sprint (400 meters/8 miles/2 miles) tomorrow and I am about to hurl from nerves.  He’s fine, of course, because…well, because he’s Big Boy and he has more self-confidence at 12 than I think I’ve ever had in my life.  Thank goodness for that.  I will have a MOVIE recap of his race sometime this week because all I heard when I was making Little Boy’s movie was, “You’re going to make a movie for my race, too, aren’t you Mom?????”  Yes, Big Boy, I am.
  • Keeping the kids busy with stuff other than video games is really time-consuming!  I’ve been working on a family blog with them which has been lots of fun.
  • Training has been going really, really, REALLY well.  Ri-donk-ulously well, in fact.  Every time I’ve been on my bike the past week and a half, I’ve been writing a post in my head about how great everything is, but when I get home, there’s that whole “lack of free time” thing and I haven’t written it down.  *sigh*

That’s all I’ve got right now – hope everything is going well in your world, too!!  Hopefully, I’ll get to read and comment with you soon!  Smile

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Extreme Makeover–Garage Edition

I’ve showed you pictures of my craptastic garage before, much to my embarassment.  It’s pretty utilitarian, holding all the junk we can’t keep in the house.  Check out how many changes it’s gone through over the years:

swanbrook 001Pre-Phase One.  This was taken before we moved in, when we were still thinking of buying the house, so (thankfully) none of this crap is mine.  But you can see how unfinished everything looks.

smaller front viewPhase One, where the walls are painted but everything that had two wheels was also motorized.

JR for sale 005 Phase Two, when we started selling the motorized two-wheelers and collecting the pedal-powered kind (this was the photo IronHubs put on craigslist to get rid of the motorcycle).  In the background, you can see the boys’ tiny little bikes and Old Bessie, the $30 Pacifica from Toys R Us that I trained with for my first triathlon!

Tri Gear 003Phase Three (taken from an angle that makes the garage look ridiculously clean), where every available space is filled with bicycles.  Ahhh, now that’s better, but I think it’s still missing something…

Bib Wall 002The Final Phase (still in progress), where you can tell at a glance that the people who own this garage are serious about racing! 

IronHubs is still on vacation this week and surprised me by completing this project while I was at work today – I love it!!  These old bibs, photos and medals were just languishing in drawers, but now they all have a place of pride where every time I come home I can’t help but smile.

Where do you display your bibs and medals??

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

TRI for FUN #1 Spectator Report

Little Boy had a truly fantastic day on Sunday at his first triathlon for the season, knocking more than three minutes off his previous best time!!  But rather than tell you all about it, I made a little movie for you:

Don’t you LOVE this song??  Me, too!  You can get it for yourself from Mark Winholtz by clicking HERE.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

DU for FUN #1 Race Report

The Lead-Up

After the WTH, I promised myself I would take plenty of time off to recover and rest and hopefully prevent those nasty I-got-back-to-it-too-fast injuries I’m so famous for.  So I took a few days off and then eased back into swimming and only the tiniest bit of running and biking.  I was relaxed and unconcerned about training because I hadn’t signed up for any more races, but was thinking about doing a Super Sprint Tri on June 19th – plenty of time.  Then I tried another open water swim.  Seriously, I don’t know what’s going on with my head this season, but I freaked out again.  I analyzed it to death talked it over with IronHubs and decided that I’m going to keep practicing in open water, but take the pressure off myself by not signing up for another tri any time soon (or until I’ve got this under control, which ever comes first).  But of course I wanted to keep racing, so I went and signed up for a series of three duathlons this summer, with the first one about a week away.  And then we went on vacation.  And then the weather took a turn for the ridiculous, with temps in the low 60s and a downpour of rain predicted for Saturday and Sunday.  I think it’s safe to say that my expectations for this race were very, very low.  I felt pretty good about coming in at 2 hours for a 3 mile run/16 mile bike/3 mile run event, and thought I might squeak in a little under, maybe 1:57.  My very best case scenario had me crossing the finish line around 1:55.  Spoiler Alert – I crushed every one of these goals!!

Race Day

After obsessively checking the weather every fifteen minutes or so on Friday evening, I realized that no amount of fretting about it was going to change the fact that race day was gonna be a wet one.  I slept better than I thought I might and got up feeling nervous but excited.  IronHubs was racing the Sprint Tri (his first tri of the season), so we loaded up all the gear and got on the road by 6:45 for an 8 am start.

Sprint Tri and Du #1 001Rainy windshield photo.

Sprint Tri and Du #1 005Ready to rock ‘n roll.

Sprint Tri and Du #1 006Do you always take a calf picture, too?  I’m not sure why we do, but I have a million of these now.  And, yes, I’m a cradle-robber.

Run Leg #1 (3 miles)

Wishing IronHubs good luck and then lining up for the first leg, I started to feel really excited.  Maybe it was the lack of open water, maybe it was the cool temps and drizzling rain (I actually really like to run in the rain and much prefer cold weather to hot on race days).  No matter the reason, I started the day with a big smile on my face and I’m pretty sure it was there the whole race!  The duathlon field was small, but not WTH small – I estimated 40-50 people, and the first person I saw was my age, so I knew I would have a little competition.  Ha, ha!  The race director shouted, “GO!” and we were off!  The run course was exactly the same for the first and third legs of the race, and it’s a three-mile stretch that I’ve covered before in previous races.  It’s a rocky, hilly, dirt road with no views of anything but the other athletes.  My race strategy was to run the first leg strong but conservative, going mostly by feel and not trying to set any PRs.  I looked at my Garmin once about a half mile in and I was going WAAAAAAAY too fast, so I reined it in and then kept it steady.  I took the hills as they came and reminded myself to shorten my stride and keep chugging along – my motto for the day was, “High Cadence, Low Heartrate.”

About a mile in, I realized that I was running a very comfortable pace and was somehow near the front of the mid-pack.  Well, that was exciting!  And then I counted girls and discovered that I was 5th female – holy crow!  Before I knew it, I was seeing the lead runners coming back at me and then all of a sudden, I was at the turnaround myself.  At mile 2.5 I snuck a peek at my Garmin again and was elated to see an average pace of 8:33, exactly where I was hoping to be.  Analyzing the numbers later, I found out that my splits were perfectly even (something I never do) at 8:33, 8:34 and 8:32. 

3 Mile Run – 25:22, T1 – approximately 2 minutes

Bike Leg (16 miles)

I was really looking forward to this bike leg before the forecast of rain.  After all that hill training I did for WTH, I felt ready to tackle the rollers on this course and was excited about riding a little more aggressively than I usually do.  The rain, though, made me worry.  I am a cautious cyclist already and not very experienced with riding in the rain (that’s what indoor trainers are for!), so I went out with the expectation of a slow-ish ride.  My “A” goal was an average of 16 mph.  The first few miles are mostly downhill with a few twists and turns and I’m not gonna lie, I rode my brakes and took it slow.  There was nothing aggressive about my riding and I got passed by more than a few cyclists.  Once we hit the straightaway section with all the hills, though, I found my groove and started pedaling away.  High cadence, low heartrate.  Every hill I climbed, I reeled in another rider.  I felt strong.  I barely even changed gears.  People around me were struggling and I just kept feeling better.  The rain was coming down heavier now and the wind had definitely picked up, but I didn’t let it bother me.  About 6 miles in, I saw IronHubs coming the other way – what a boost!  I was so happy to see that he was having a good day and looking strong on the bike.

After I made the turnaround at Mile 8, I realized just how much of a headwind I had been battling.  How exciting to have a tailwind now!  I had been leapfrogging with another rider for a few miles – I would pass him on the uphills and he would pass me back on the way down (he was a pretty big guy, he could coast the downhills and still pass me).  I finally got fed up with it and passed him decisively at the bottom of one of the biggest hills.  We had been chatting a little, so when I got ahead of him he shouted, “Wow, look at you go!  Queen of the Hills!”  I think that might be the nicest compliment I’ve ever received.

The last three or four miles of the course is a long, steady climb (with a headwind to boot), and while I was pushing through it I wondered briefly if I had saved enough for the final run.  I was still feeling good, though, so I geared down a notch and just kept spinning.  The screen on my Garmin was still set for the WTH, where my only concern was average speed, so my data fields were showing average pace, % grade and total distance.  I had absolutely no idea how fast I was currently going or how long the ride had taken me.  As it turned out, I was pretty slow in those final miles, but managed an average cadence of 93 rpms and an average speed of 17.1 mph for the ride – woo hoo!

16 Mile Bike – 55:29, T2 – approximately 2 minutes

Run Leg #2 (3 miles)

I hopped off my bike and ran to my rack to find that all my stuff had gotten completely soaked while I was riding.  This should have been obvious to me from all that rain in my face on the bike, but…well, I’m a natural blonde, and it apparently didn’t occur to me that my shoes were getting wet back in transition!  Ha, ha!  No matter.  I put on my squishy running shoes and decided against wearing the drenched hat and off I went on rubbery biking legs.  During training, I tell myself all the time to just get through the first mile and then my legs will feel normal and this run was certainly no different.  I fought the urge to slow down by reminding myself sternly that I was the world’s toughest ho-ho and I sure as heck wasn’t going to walk for a Sprint!  Within a half mile or so, my legs found a pace I could live with.  I saw IronHubs running strong and fast (no joke, his last mile was a sub-6 minute pace!) and was so excited that he was having a great day.  We high-fived like the nerds we are and he went on to finish in an amazing 30th place overall.  Out of 416.  Yeah, he’s smokin’ fast!

The run course by this point was a slippery, muddy mess.  The uphills weren’t awful, but the downhills were getting pretty dicey.  I concentrated a lot on watching my footing and – no surprise here – keeping my cadence high.  When I got to the turnaround, I had passed a few people and only one guy had passed me.  I was actually feeling pretty good, so I made it my mission in life to stay on his back pocket.  He was running really strong and looking at the numbers later, I sped up significantly to keep up with him.  When we got to the final mile, I was feeling great – happy to be almost done, happy to still feel so strong, just plain ol’ happy!  I hadn’t looked at my Garmin at all for this run leg, mostly because it was on the wrong screen but partly because I was holding it in my hand to keep it from getting any more wet.  Trust me, this logic made sense at the time.  In any event, I had absolutely no idea where I stood, time-wise, for the run or for the race as a whole.  Imagine my surprise to come screaming into the finishing chute a full TEN MINUTES faster than I had expected!!!  Woo hooo!!!

3 Mile Run – 25:07 (Garmin time, which I didn’t get started until at least a tenth of a mile into the run leg, so maybe 26 minutes?)

Finish Time – 1:50:37

Sprint Tri and Du #1 010

Sprint Tri and Du #1 013My sweet kiddos stood out in the rain to cheer on their mom and dad, I think they deserved a medal for that!!

The Best Part of All

After the race, it was so very, very cold that we took off before the results were posted.  I felt really good about my time, but I wasn’t sure if it was good enough for hardware.  Lo and behold, when I checked the results this morning, I saw this little gem:

DU Results

I won my age group (and, in fact, came in 13th place overall)!!!!!  So far in 2011, I have competed in two duathlons and won my AG both times!  And this time, there were even other girls my age!!!  Ha, ha!  I tell you what, I could really get used to this “big fish in a small pond” thing.  I love duathlon, I really du, I mean, do!

TRI for KIDS #1 006I picked up my award this morning while cheering for Little Boy at his first tri of the season (pics and post to come soon!) and yes, I stood on the podium!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted

IronHubs and I took the kiddos on a mini vacation for the last few days.  We were only about three hours from home, so it wasn’t exotic or anything, but it sure was nice to get away.  Vacations are sort of like Christmas decorations for me:  the only thing I like better than going on vacay is coming home.  We went to Monterey (over on the coast), where we were hoping for a little sand, surf and sunshine, but instead were greeted with some crazy June-uary weather, including high winds and more clouds than I was hoping for.  Oh, well, at least we weren’t at home where they got pelted with hail and had tornado warnings!

Monterey Vacay 115It was sunny, but it sure wasn’t warm.

Four days and three nights of eating restaurant food is all I can handle.  We tried to eat reasonably healthy foods in normal sized portions (read:  we shared entrees), but there’s a certain amount of collateral damage you can’t avoid.  Here’s some unsolicited advice:  don’t ever weigh yourself the day you come home from vacation.  Whoa, Nelly!  Of course, some of it can be attributed to “traveling colon,” but the rest is from all the crepes, tilapia tacos, Italian bread, clay pot catfish, and numerous Frappuchinos I consumed.  The return to clean eating starts now.

Monterey Vacay 067The restaurants on Fisherman’s Wharf all give out samples of their clam chowder, so what can you do but try them all??

We managed to get in plenty of exercise, too.  We did some hiking, some hotel pool swimming, some leisurely walking, some “historic walking trail” walking, some running on this great trail around a lake that was right outside our hotel’s door, some playing at wonderful parks, and lots of fork-to-mouth lifting.  But I think I already mentioned that part – ha, ha!

Monterey Vacay 005Hiking at Ano Nuevo State Reserve.

Monterey Vacay 042Enjoying the view and getting blown by the wind at Natural Bridges.

Goofing around at Dennis the Menace Park

Monterey Vacay 095You’re never too old to build sand castles.

Monterey Vacay 181Monterey Bay Aquarium

So, now we’re back to reality, with mail to sort, a car to clean out, grocery shopping to be done, and hundreds of blog posts to read (I think I know what I’ll be doing instead of while tackling the enormous mound of laundry).  Oh, yeah, and a race to prepare for!  I’m doing a sprint distance (3 miles/16 miles/3 miles) duathlon on Saturday, the first in a series of three over the course of the summer.  IronHubs is doing the sprint triathlon (because he’s not afraid of swimming) and on Sunday, Little Boy is doing the first of his series of three kids’ triathlons.  Sophia, I think this answers your question – yes, I’ll be spending LOTS of time at Rancho Seco this summer! 

I am rather underprepared (wait, you mean taking two weeks off isn’t good training??) for this race, but I’m really looking forward to it, since I’ve never done this distance as a du and I love me some automatic PRs.  Plus, I can’t wait to use the phrase, “Well, after the World’s Toughest Half, everything else just seems easy…”  Ha, ha!